: The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Privileges Committee of the State Assembly to permit the Editor of Nakkheeran Publications to be represented by an advocate, who will appear along with him in proceedings before the panel.

Passing a common order on a petition by the journalist, Nakkheeran Gopal and an advocate E. Edwig, the court said that in this case no rule was framed by the committee or by the House prohibiting the appearance of the petitioner’s counsel along with the person who was issued the show cause notice.

On the other hand, the petitioner’s plea had been rejected only on the ground that there was no rule providing for such a requirement. “In essence, neither the House nor the committee has framed any rule either allowing or denying the appearance of an advocate for a party who was summoned to appear. Therefore, it is not a case where there is any legal impediment for the House to permit a counsel of the choice of the person who was summoned to appear.”

Further, after the notification of Section 30 of the Advocates Act there was a vested right created by Parliament for a party to appear through counsel in cases where the body was entitled to take evidence.

In the petition, filed through counsel P.T.Perumal, Mr.Gopal challenged an order of the Assembly Secretary of January 28 last year in connection with a publication of a news item in the magazine dated January 7 last year in the name of Kamaraj, Joint Editor, making certain statements attributed to the Chief Minister.

The show cause notice said the person concerned should himself give an explanation in writing and also appear before the committee for giving the statement. The petitioner sought a direction to permit him to appear and represent through or along with his counsel, as of right, in the proceedings.

Mr.Edwig challenged the same order which said no lawyer or any other person would be allowed to give an explanation or argue his client Mr.Gopal’s case as was decided by the committee.

Allowing both the petitions, Justice K.Chandru said it was immaterial that the committee’s report was not final and it was subject to the decision of the full House. That the proceedings might culminate in the deprivation of a citizen’s liberty, and Mr. Gopal’s apprehension that he would be unable to deal with the situation on his own and would require an advocate’s assistance was sufficient to say the committee could not deny counsel’s assistance.